German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on a diplomatic offensive since the Berlin conference, visited Istanbul on Friday. The wide range of topics on her agenda included bilateral trade, the European Union, the situation in Idlib, the proposed safe zone, the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya and refugees, all of which stressed the importance of strengthening German-Turkish cooperation.
Let's give credit where credit is due: Merkel's foreign policy is far more reasonable than French President Emmanuel Macron's approach. She understands that the road to protecting European interests goes through Turkey. Merkel played a key role in de-escalating tensions between Turkey and the EU back in 2017. Approaching the end of her tenure as chancellor, she hopes to cooperate with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to complete her political mission. The German leader appreciates the impact of refugees and the Libyan conflict on the EU's future and the heavy lifting that Germany needs to do to keep Europe afloat. In the wake of Brexit, she grasps that Europe's future depends on strong relations with three powerful outsiders: Russia, Turkey and Britain.
Angela Merkel knows that the U.S. abdication of its global responsibilities compels Europeans to take care of themselves and, by extension, to work with Erdoğan's Turkey. In recent years, Ankara has been quite active in the geopolitical arena of Iran and North Africa. Most recently, Turkey's two bilateral agreements with Libya reaffirmed the Turks' indispensability.
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